Friday, December 22, 2006

I'm outta here

Am offline (mostly) and out of town until the middle of the first week of January. Hope all my readers are getting some time off for enjoyable activities during the same interval. To keep you company until I come back to the keyboard, here's a little holiday look at Pasha around 12 weeks old:

Pasha elf

Happy holidays!!

Update: Oh, and in case you have an afternoon to fritter, Jason Kottke offers a compendium of little online games that should provide some amusement...

From his keyboard to God's ears

Is right-wing religious fundamentalism about to jump the shark? Knock wood...

(via Medley)


Haven't blogged this story, perhaps because it dismays me too much. Plants raided and (brown) workers rounded up, green card holders along with illegals, parents cut off from their children (many of whom are citizens)... And, of course, no punishment for the companies who employed illegal workers. Then it turns out that maybe the motive wasn't immigration but union-busting. And now it looks like we're headed for a new era of detention camps complete with the tried-and-true (Gitmo detainees love it!) system of indefinite detention, no contact with the outside world, and generally an abdication of everything we say this country stands for. Firedog Lake gives an outlet for the anger and frustration, suggesting that we take action by flooding Congress with holiday pleas to bring this injustice to an end. Consider adding your voice -- we can't just stand by and try to wait out the two years until we can take our country back from the monsters, because by then we'll all be monsters...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Quote of the day (sadly unillustrated edition)

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
- Dr. Seuss,
author and illustrator (1904-1991)


Very cool flash map/history of the Middle East, covering some 700 years in a minute and a half. See how many different empires and invasions have controlled the region -- my favorite part is the final map with all the colors overlaid. Puts the current elbowing in some perspective...

(via kos)

Undermining normal presumptions

This post at Making Light does a great job of capturing something that I've felt in a visceral way about Bush, which is that much of why he confounds pundits of all stripes is that he just doesn't respond to developments in the way that we expect of "normal people."
I think that Bush violates those assumptions. He is more or less completely irresponsible. You can see this tripping people up over and over. For instance, when Colin Powell gives Bush his ‘hey, think really hard about Iraq; you break it, you own it’ speech: that seems to have been, for Powell, a big deal to do, and for him, assuming responsibility for a whole country would be a big deal as well. I don’t think Powell understood that he was dealing with someone to whom those words would mean nothing.
. . .
The problem is that Bush is not, in this sense, a normal person. … [The] sense of “can’t” that’s at work in statements like “he can’t just ignore the combination of the ISG report, the election, his own unpopularity, and the unanimous advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” has no purchase on him whatsoever.
Worth reading the whole thing, as it also picks up on the key distinctions that can be observed between Empty Rhetoric from Bush and co, and The True Beliefs that transcend the intervention of facts or circumstances...

(via Medley)

This country needs to get over its puritanism, already

No honor student should end up with the choice of ten years in jail or a lifetime stamped as a child molestor for having consensual sex with another teen. There are much better things to be doing with our prisons. This is really a contortionist's vision of justice.

(via Medley)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Net neutrality, unpacked

A fantastic short movie clip explains what's at stake, in a clear but lighthearted manner. Watch it, and get on board before the corporations have squozen us all out of our right to be heard.


The image hosting site ( at which I have kept all the small images that I use as "emoticons" to react to particular stories, or that I clip to use to illustrate one-time stories, appears to have had a major crash, and they tell me they have only recovered 50% of images and accounts (which appear to include none of mine). I boggle at the lack of back-up that this implies, for folks who host data for a living.
snow cloud from Photobucket
Anyway, a bit bummed at the resulting visual state of my blog(s), and also at the immensity of the task necessary to replace all of those images (not all of which I even have on hand anymore), let alone fix links to point to the replacements. Guess I'll be showing a slimmer bloggy profile for a while...

[Snow taken from the half-dozen images left behind at my former Photobucket test site.]

The monster under the bed

This story makes it pretty clear that not all terrorists threatening large sections of the US strike equal terror in our government (or equal excitement in our press).
On Nov. 28... Demetrius "Van" Crocker was sentenced to 30 years in prison. David Kustoff, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, where Crocker was prosecuted, tells Salon that "It was one of the preeminent anti-terrorism cases of 2006 nationwide." Whether or not that is true, few outside of the greater Memphis metropolitan area have ever heard of Crocker. Only one reporter, John Branston of the weekly Memphis Flyer, even covered his entire trial.
This guy wanted to unleash chemical weapons in a major metropolitan area (or maybe nuclear materials near the US capital), idolized McVeigh, was putting together the pieces of his plan in real time. But he was white and American, so no help to the bogeyman scare that's keeping hundreds of uncharged brown people in cruel detainment camps, and we didn't have to break the Constitution to catch him. [Full story at Salon, complete with the obvious comparison to Padilla.]

We are not only governed by children, but by the kind of children who like to fry ants with magnifying glasses, at least as long as nobody's watching...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Forget the whole "it can't happen to me" line...

American contractor, and even whistleblower, held in dehumanizing conditions in Iraq. Because once they're behind bars, we appear to presume they belong there. I'm more than a little tired of this.

Wow -- that is just precisely it

The AntiWar Blog takes on the specious argument that antiwar folks got Iraq wrong too. The scale of the difference is almost immeasurable, but really, the analogy made here boils it down better than anything I could say. Soooo tiresome.

(via Medley)

The good life

I sometimes wish that I had been born a cat. At minimum, I envy our house cats their lives of nap and play...

(via Medley)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Inner child

Make a snowflake with paper and scissors -- at least, a virtual one. You can save the result, and view others' flakes as well.

(via kottke)

The Emperor's new troops

slaps forehead...I find it incredibly depressing to consider that the Bushies' response to their midterm defeat and critical ISG report may be to send more troops to Iraq to pursue their losing aims, rather than to try to find ways to start a pull-out. But I think Rafe is onto something with his analysis:
Psychologically, this is the only option available to President Bush. He has to make a change for political reasons, and despite the fact that victory is no longer an option, sending more troops is a tangible change in course and makes it look like we're still trying hard to win.
Too bad for the troops who have to be sacrificed to make Bush feel better about himself, I guess...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sometimes I just watch, mouth agape

... as Pundits With a Platform endorse the concept of a Pinochet for Iraq. Digby has this one exactly right:
Sorry bub. Support for Pinochet's mass killing and torture is inherently immoral. And justifying your support because the Chilean economy is doing better than Cuba's is just plain disgusting. This is what has become of the grand neocon experiment in Iraq: phony rhetorical battles with leftist ghosts of thirty years ago. It would be sad if it weren't so sick.
The right wing of our country has led us all into a brick wall. It's time they stepped aside, kept their ideas to themselves, and let the adults people with some grip on reality try to straighten things out. Yeesh.

Not the best strategy move I've heard this week

"Maverick" Senator John McCain declares war on blogs. Don't want the general populace to think that that "free speech" allows them to share their opinions with one another . . .

(via Medley)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Kittens taking a long winter's nap...

Are cats at their cutest when they're sleeping, or is that the only time they hold still long enough to catch on film? Can't say for sure, but here are a sample of our few recent bengal photos, and they're of the napping variety. Meant to get these up last Friday, but they got lost in transit from home to work...

curl of Pixel
Pixel (18 mos.)

curl of Pixel
Pasha (16 mos.)

Previous bengal-blogging: 71, 70, 69, 68, 67, 66, 65, 64, 63, 62, 61, 60, 59, 58, 57, 56, 55, 54, 53, 52, 51, 50, 49, 48, 47, 46, 45, 44, 43, 42, 41, 40, 39, 38, 37, 36, 35, 34, 33, 32, 31, 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0

A reminder of mortality

Anybody who bookmarked my link to the 2006 Advent Calendar may have wondered why it stopped updating on the 7th, leaving us itching for more spiffy animations and lore. Well, it turns out that the creator/compiler of these great phenomena passed away unexpectedly, and to the great dismay of all who loved her writing and other communications. For those still looking for some holiday spirit, I recommend this archive of past Advent calendars; pick a good one to carry you through the end of the month. And don't forget to hug the people you value (or send an e-hug to online friends).

Update: who knew that the real Santa had a website??

Putz alert

CNN gets the jump on visual ad hominem attacks against Barak Obama, presenting him in split screen views with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Yeesh.

(via Talking Points Memo)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Quote of the day

Sometimes you have to take the leap, and build your wings on the way down.
- after Ray Bradbury
(via wolfmoon71's KoL profile)

Two different visions on division

How to handle the ordination of gays is an issue that many religious communities are wrestling with. Certainly, my own Presbyterian church has had several heated summit meetings on the topic, with much concern that it could split the denomination in two -- see, e.g., this deferral of a more open policy, and this example of a local Presbytery torn apart by disagreement. Most denominations are still struggling to balance their desire to defer to Biblical teachings with their desire to accept the heartfelt commitment of homosexual members, especially in light of more recent medical and psychological views.

Thus, I found fascinating the recent decision of an important group of Conservative Jewish rabbis, brought to my attention by a friend. star of DavidSpecifically, their highest legal body passed conflicting resolutions, one in favor of the ordination of gay rabbis, and two against. (This is possible because rulings require not a majority, but merely a minimum number, in this case 6/25.) On its face, this could be viewed as a ludicrous result, or as an abdication of authority. But in fact, as my friend explained, it is consistent with the long Jewish tradition of respecting a diverse range of arguments and interpretations of its text and laws. By voting to endorse two opposing views, the council was saying, in essence, that intelligent people of good conscience can disagree. It is up to the individual synagogue (and presumably seminary) to consider the issues and reach its own decision -- to weigh the arguments and decide whose guidance they trust.

It's a fascinating third way. On the one hand, I find the "we won't always agree" position quite instructive and human. On the other hand, I'm not sure that every congregation wants to have to handle this struggle on its own; that's one of the reasons that they elect governing bodies. The effect may merely be to trickle down the dissent and division. But if the local groups have the same view as their leaders -- that it's not a matter of waiting for consensus to emerge, but of choosing among similarly valid viewpoints -- then perhaps they can survive even internal dissent. Anyway, it will be interesting to find out.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday laugh

This video is inspired: things people do in pools that look ridiculous out of context. Cracked me up.

(via kottke)

Last day for the 109th Congress

matters of stateThe TPM folks have a little snarky reminiscence to bid them farewell. Truly an abysmal showing...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Meanwhile in Korea

Bushies find their way back to Clinton's plan after six years of watching things go to hell.

Iraq Study Group shouts into the hurricane

Kos gives a round-up of reactions to the report. Atrios has my favorite:
Tony Snow on the ISG:
The one thing they thought was absolutely important was to rebuild a sense of national unity on this, and that was their overwhelming objective.
There is national unity. To get the fuck out.
Uh, pretty much yep. Also on point is some hearkening back to the Vietnam era (oh! unspeakable!):
Welcome to 1968: everyone knows the war must end and victory is unachievable, but the will to actually withdraw in full remains unpalatable to the political class. Bush will have a very hard time recommitting the country to a chimerical "victory" in Iraq. But in the name of “responsibility,” thousands more will die, for years and years, as the situation deteriorates further. Someone, at sometime, will finally have to say "enough," and get the United States out.
Sigh. I hope that's wrong, but the troops sound pessimistic too...

Who is this Obama?

Obama photoBarak Obama is very much in the public eye this month, as he undertakes a variety of travels and discussions that appear to indicate an interest in the 2008 Presidential campaign. Is it too soon, in terms of his experience at a national level, or in terms of the nation's readiness for a mixed-race leader? Is he too centrist, too disappointing to progressives at touchstone moments? Or is his ability to reach out to a wide variety of Americans and touch their sense of national pride and community spirit exactly what the country needs? Everybody has an opinion, nobody knows.

Some interesting takes: Pastor Dan at Street Prophets says that Obama is not a political triangulator, but genuinely trying to change how national politics are done.
Obama is going to drive progressives up a wall because they'll be looking for him to take their side in the partisan dogfights, and he's practicing a ministry of reconciliation. Which doesn't mean that he doesn't agree with them on the issues: it just means that he defines leadership in a very different way. Unlike many in the netroots, Obama doesn't believe that liberals need to do the same thing, only better - ie, outwork the Republicans. He thinks that it's time for fundamentally new tactics and a fundamentally new strategy.
. . .
People talk about Obama's limitless ambition coupled with his odd lack of apparent passion for controversial topics. It's all there, but the ambition isn't to build a stronger party and the passion isn't to craft legislation. It's to fundamentally change the way Americans talk to one another, and the way they go about solving problems.
He might be right -- it would certainly make sense of many of the seeming conflicts in Obama's behavior. If he's right, is that something liberals will get behind, or are we so aware of the damage done in the last eight years that we need a push on policy now, and are willing to leave reconciliation and transformation of the dialogue for a different era? Can both happen?

Meanwhile, over at Hullabaloo, Digby is worried that Obama seems to be running against his own party by arguing against straw-man sketches of liberal positions (see also Bauers). I agree that that's frustrating, but it could be a sign of inexperience as much as of ill intent. However, intriguing to me is that Digby's conclusion runs thusly:
This is the political moment for the Democrats to seize the mantle of the mainstream --- to argue that we are the big tent, where people of conscience from all over the political spectrum are coming together, concerned about our nation, ready to work in common cause. The Republican party has abandoned the concerns of the American people. The Democratic party is the party that will secure the future.
That sounds an awful lot like what Pastor Dan thinks Obama is working on. If he can get his rhetoric in line with his larger goals, maybe his campaign would become unstoppable . . .

(links via kos)

Crocadile tears

That's what I'm crying for our poor congressfolk, facing the terrible spectre of a 5-day workweek. Medley skewers the conservative complaints quite aptly.

Quote of the day

grass blades
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.
–George Washington Carver
(via A Mindful Life)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Comments off

This blog is under assault by a comment spammer, who's adding an average of 4 crap comments to every post containing a photo. I've turned off comments (or changed them to "registered users only") until I can get that in hand. Sorry about that.

Update: ok, I think I've got it in hand for now. Will leave comments as "moderated" for a few days to see if I get another attack, but otherwise things should be back to normal...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I remind myself it's still early days

Because the more I hear of McCain, the more I fear the 2008 election...
If people like what Bush has been doing these past six years, they're gonna love McCain. He too is a big believer in the Classical Shitstopping school of foreign policy.
Heh... sigh.

Poem of the day


You don't solve problems.
You experience them
Like days which, once passed, are gone.
Like old clothes
You've outgrown
Slipping off your shoulders
And you enter
The final door naked and free
Like the dawn.
by Leopold Staff
(via ginkgo)

This year's Advent Calendar

Belatedly reminded of the fantastic on-line advent calendar put together every year by Leslie Harpold -- it has a mix of thoughtful, artistic, and diverting bits to keep you coming back all month. Bookmark it!

(via Rebecca's Pocket)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Good news, bad news

glazed lookJust can't catch a lasting wind...
  • Good news: John Bolton resigns, as Bush folks concede he'll never be confirmed.

  • Bad news: A dailyKos piece reveals the human price of deregulation, as the Bushies cater to their corporate pals.

  • Good news: Harry Reid may set the Senate schedule to prevent recess appointments in future, although the usual 10-day wait is only tradition, meaning that the President may just ignore it and appoint people over lunch break (or the Senate may revolt over their short holidays).

  • Bad news: Bitch, Ph.D, is feeling a bit ill about our breaking of Jose Padilla, who appears to have lost touch with reality through his years of confinement and interrogation.

  • 20-20 Hindsight: Washington Post notes that the reasons given by Congressfolk who voted against the Iraq war have largely been proven true. Too bad not a word of their thoughts made the paper at the time . . .

That's some serious cute

Perky toddler-tude here. Wow.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Digby rocks

Talking about Iraq war planning and Americal public support or lack thereof...
This isn't the 1970's. They aren't going to get away with blaming the cowardly public this time. There are no hippies to hate ---- just millions of average, taxpaying, middle class Americans who know damned well when they've been lied to. And if they don't, there are many of us out here who will remind them.
Indeed. We've learned to recognize a con, the hard way...

(via Atrios)

Another drive-by appearance...

I'm feeling quite holiday-ish this week, with the unable-to-work feeling that usually comes a day or two before vacation. The timing is unfortunate, as I have a series of very short days in which to do the usual heap of work, and I also have some additional distraction due to holiday festivities in the context of my online addiction frolic. So just two shorties today:
  • Very funny take on Holiday Cheer here, compliments of Dave Barry.

  • In a more painful vein is this commentary on White House holiday priorities. Yeowch!
    [Note: premium Salon content, requires membership or watching ads]